«My aspirations are to ennoble Photography and to secure for it the character and uses of High Art by combining the real & Ideal & sacrificing nothing of Truth by all possible devotion to poetry and beauty.» Julia Margaret Cameron to Sir John Herschel, 31 December 1864
Julia Margaret Cameron’s major exhibition, celebrating the bicentenary of the photographer’s birth and the 150th anniversary of her first and only museum exhibition, is opening at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London on November 28, featuring works from the museum’s collection. On this occasion, MACK just released a comprehensive monograph edited by Marta Weiss, curator of the show.
Julia Margaret Cameron (1815–79) was born in Calcutta, fourth of seven descendants of an aristocratic family. After her studies in France, she moved back to India where she met the British astronomer Sir John Herschel, who introduced her to the newly-born discipline of photography in 1842, at the beginning of a longstanding and profound friendship. Only many years later, after living in South Africa, then moving to England and giving birth to four children, Julia Margaret Cameron began making photographs, with passion and dedication.
Enhanced by a beautifully refined design, the book traces an in-depth overview of Cameron’s outstanding production, featuring a rich selection of her portraits, some of them previously unreleased, from the Madonna Groups to her pioneering pictorial portraits and staged representations, alongside excerpts from Illustrations to Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, and Other Poems and the reproductions of letters she addressed to V&A’s director Henry Cole between 1865 and 1872.
Unaware anticipator of the Pictorialist movement that rose at the end of the XIX century, Cameron was strongly criticised in her lifetime for the hazardous use of photographic techniques and aesthetic choices. With this book and exhibition, her contribution is finally and legitimately celebrated as one of the most innovative and significant in the history of photography.
Julia Margaret Cameron: Photographs to electrify you with delight and startle the world by Marta Weiss Co-published by MACK and V&A 188 pp., € 30.00 www.mackbooks.co.uk November 28, 2015 – February 21, 2016 V&A, Cromwell Road, London www.vam.ac.uk